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Women’s 10K Interval Start:
Today began a new chapter in World Cup racing as women and men competed at the same distances on the same course for the first time ever. This also marked the first distance competition since the retirement of Therese Johaug. With that competitive force no longer dominating the races, it would be left to the field to decide who would lead it into the future.
The race was won by Ebba Andersson of Sweden, followed by Frida Karlsson of Sweden, and Katharina Henning of Germany. The top American was Rosie Brennan finishing in seventh place, 29 seconds out of first. Jessie Diggins was the second American, finishing 21st, 1:18:0 out of first place. Rounding out the field for the Americans were Novie McCabe in 39th, 2:03.4 back. Sophia Laukli in 45th, 2:26.2 back, Alayna Sonnesyn in 49th 2:38.4 back, Julia Kern 51st, 2:49.7. The top Canadian was Katherine Stewart-Jones, followed by Dahria Beatty and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt.
The women’s individual race in Ruka, Finland was held this morning in cold, overcast conditions. The athletes competed on a five-kilometer course with a mix of natural and artificial snow with temperatures around 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8.0 Centigrade) at the start. Humidity was 93%. Conditions were favorable as skiers used a mixture of klister and hard wax for kick.
First out for the American’s was Alayna Sonnesyn starting in the 18th spot, followed by Novie McCabe in 22nd, Sophia Laukli in 23rd, Julia Kern in 25th, Jessie Diggins in 38th, and Rosie Brennan in 42nd.
Karlsson Jumps out to the Lead:
The steep hills of Ruka proved challenging as many skiers stepped out of the tracks to take advantage of loose snow going up hills. Most were resorting to herringbone on the second lap. Karlsson asserted herself early, taking a lead at the 3.1kilometer interval by ten seconds over Andersson by 6.5 seconds. Even so, by the 6.1 kilometer mark, Ebba Andersson took a 2.7 second lead over Karlsson. Henning was in third place, 9.5 seconds back. At this point, Rosie Brennan was 21.9 seconds back in sixth place.
Andersson Takes a Slim Lead:
By the 8.1 K mark Andersson’s lead had been reduced to the narrowest of margins, leading Karlsson by just 0.6 seconds. Henning had dropped back to fourth place, 8.5 seconds back. Brennan was in fifth place, just behind Heidi Weng who had a very fast second half.
Karlsson crossed the finish line and had to wait to see how Andersson would fare. Karlsson had looked very strong as she finished, but would it be enough to hold off the surging Andersson? As it turned out, Karlsson’s time in the winner’s chair was short-lived as Andersson ferociously attacked the last hill to make time on Karlsson. Anderson had an incredible final two kilometers and ended up beating her teammate by 5.7 seconds to give Sweden first and second place.
The surprise of the day was Anne Kjersti Kalva of Norway. Kalva missed the Olympics with Covid, but on this day she battled back to a fourth place finish, falling just two tenths of a second short of a podium finish.